Healthy Mind in Healthy Body

In the Dhammapada, in the chapter on Happiness, Lord Buddha refers to health as "the greatest acquisition." An Indian proverb states: "Good health is equal to a thousand boons." It is a priceless boon, indeed, for both the poor and the rich, the young and the old. In our artificial civilization it is common to find even the young having health problems. Our hospitals are overcrowded with people suffering from all kinds of diseases, and it is pathetic to see them in terrible anguish and agony.

The very first idea that occurs on reflecting upon Lord Buddha's wonderful statement is that health is not a gift from "providence" or parents, but is an acquisition, which means something earned through right efforts in the right direction. It is under the law of Karma that one enjoys good health and has his instruments of body, mind and heart in order. "A sound mind in a sound body" is an ancient adage, and very few can claim that privilege today. Mind and body are very closely related and affect each other for weal or woe. Each one, as an old soul in a new body, brings with him at birth, under the law of Karma, traits and tendencies pertaining to his physical, mental and moral nature, acquired in previous incarnations, and therefore is responsible for whatever is his or her due on all planes. Each one is free to act rightly or wrongly in the present incarnation, that is, to work in harmony with Nature and Nature's laws, or go against them, depending on his choices. In order to preserve good health, or to restore it if one doesn't have it, one has to understand the principles of life, and live accordingly. A sunny temperament and a cheerful disposition are the outcome of good health.

The words "heal" and "health" are closely related, and disease or lack of ease is the reverse. The dictionary defines "disease" as "bodily disorder or derangement of health." The human body is a living organism with vital centres which should function harmoniously together as a unit. Disorder at once sets in whenever that harmony is disturbed. Prevention is better than cure, and so it is the duty of every single individual to keep his body free from any kind of ailment.

Theosophically, the physical body is the visible aspect and only one-seventh of the whole man; the remaining six constituents are invisible, but working in and through the physical, visible body. It is only the outer encasement of the inner six principles. As they are all interdependent and interrelated, the derangement or disorder of any one of the principles will affect the whole man, and thus diseases spring up in the physical body. It is important to observe rules of health, physical, mental and moral, so that the inner man, and particularly the self-conscious thinker, the reincarnating ego, can carry on its activities without obstruction. Physicians generally prescribe medicines according to the visible symptoms, without taking into account the inner principles and the causal aspect of the disease. The creative, preservative and destructive-regenerative forces and energies are within man, but physicians and patients alike generally attach greater importance to the taking of medicines than to giving Mother Nature a chance to restore the disturbed equilibrium. The result is only a temporary relief from the pain and, in many cases, undesirable after-effects and fresh diseases crop up. Where is the medical practitioner with an all-round knowledge of man in his relationship with the whole universe? In the words of Paracelsus:

Man is himself a cosmos. A physician who knows nothing about Cosmology will know little about disease. He should know what exists in heaven and upon the earth, what lives in the four elements and how they act upon man; in short, he should know what man is, his origin and his constitution; he should know the whole man, and not merely his external body. If man were in possession of a perfect knowledge of self he would not need to be sick at all.

In the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita, Sri Krishna instructs Arjuna: "This divine discipline, Arjuna, is not to be attained by the man who eateth more than enough or too little, nor by him who hath a habit of sleeping much, nor by him who is given to overwatching. The meditation which destroyeth pain is produced in him who is moderate in eating and in recreation, of moderate exertion in his actions, and regulated in sleeping and waking." Thus, moderation in all the activities of daily life is an important rule of health. Fresh air and exercise, pure, wholesome food, and regular hours of sleep will always help to build a good constitution. Sattvic food is described by Sri Krishna in the 17th chapter of the Gita: "The food which increases the length of days, vigour and strength, which keeps one free from sickness, of tranquil mind, and contented, and which is savoury, nourishing, of permanent benefit and congenial to the body, is that which is attractive to those in whom the sattva quality prevaileth." These right principles of diet each one can observe for himself. "Vigour and strength" are mentioned, but they are not of the type needed by an athlete, or a fighter, or a mountaineer, for the work of the spiritual aspirant is along quite another line. He has to become a proper channel with receptivity of mind and brain and a clean healthy body, for the carrying on of the work of the great Masters of Theosophy.

As given in Raja-Yoga or Occultism (p. 2), the first of the seven qualifications for Chelaship is: "Perfect physical health." It is modified to some extent for the candidates of our present era. The chief aim and object of the aspirant being the service of others, his one duty is to live to the best of his ability according to the teachings of Theosophy and spread the Message by example and precept. If the body is not in a healthy condition, he becomes unfit for the great work and his aim is frustrated. If through past mistakes his physical and mental stamina is not what it should be, he must endeavour to regain it in the present through steadfast efforts.

There are so many different systems of cure—Allopathy, Homeopathy, Nature Cure, Water Cure, Ayurveda, Unani, Mental Science, Christian Science, etc. Theosophy stresses the importance of throwing out the disease of the body, not pushing it in, as the latter would have its own repercussions in the future. It also discourages the mental attitude of denying a disease when it does crop up. It is always best to live according to Nature's laws, observing punctuality in time and unity and harmony with all its departments, thus deriving the utmost benefit from all. The starry firmament above and the earth beneath our feet have to be looked upon with gratitude and respect. The light of the sun, the colours of the rainbow, the sweet melodies of the birds, the fragrance of the flowers and the trees, the high mountains and the deep valleys, all need our grateful admiration. We obtain so much from Nature, and only through our love and adoration can it be enriched. Some of the healing cults use the power of sound or music for effecting cures; others use colours for the same purpose. They may bring about partial results, and different temperaments are affected differently. Both sounds and colours are produced by different rates of vibration, and each individual has his own rate in terms of which he responds. All these are not permanent remedies; they but help in producing soothing effects.

A lasting cure can only result with the knowledge of the real inner man, the man of mind and emotions, the currents of which circulate in the foundational astral body, more subtle in substance, but more elastic, impressionable, magnetic, with inner organs of action and sensation which are constantly affected by our thoughts and feelings. As Madame Blavatsky has stated:

Half, if not two-thirds of our ailings and diseases are the fruit of our imagination and fears. Destroy the latter and give another bent to the former, and nature will do the rest.

So, control of the mind and the desire nature is essential to keep the body in good condition. We are further told:

Physician, heal thyself: Diet, fasting, purgation, repose, exercise. The virtues are medicines, self-sacrifice is a purgation, calmness a prescription, patience a sovereign remedy, altruism the Great Physician. The mind and moral nature thus fed and exercised, natural physical means will restore the body. (The Laws of Healing)

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